Sign up for my newsletter to be among the first to learn of upcoming titles!

[cancer] The days go by, water flowing underground

Slept 9.25 hours solid. I think I woke up when the electric blanket turned itself off. Fatigue, fatigue, fatigue. Scars hurt when I woke up, too, which is generally Not Good. is visiting, she may be off to visit and family later, but I’m staying put. Even minor errands leave me badly out of sorts these days. A two-hour round trip to visit babies would pretty much put me into medical distress.

Last night’s dreaming involved a trip to Australia. Not actually being in Australia, mind you, which would have been awesome. Simply the trip to and fro. I fell asleep (inside the dream) on the way back, and woke up to found our 747 taxiing down a major street in some unknown American city. We were tearing down power lines and stoplights, and causing all manner of chaos.

That devolved into dealing with Homeland Security, being released to my old prep school without any of my identification or credit cards, and having to find my way back to the airport and convince them to return my belongings and paperwork. The Homeland Security guy I kept dealing with in my dreams was a friend from the Day Jobbe, and I kept trying to figure out how he had gotten into that line of work.

Anxiety? Me? No, why do you ask?

[cancer] The dreams, please…

Dreamt last night I was being required to justify my entire medical history and current healthcare situation to Kentucky GOP senatorial candidate and Civil Rights opponnent Rand Paul. We were outside at some sort of Ren Faire or low tech theme park, and he was being large and in charge. Despite what the Nevada GOP says, I don’t think there’s enough chickens in the world to pay for my healthcare needs what with metastatic colon cancer and all. I’d much rather have my healthcare delivery framework legislated by people in the reality-based community than by people who believe their ideology over any evidence whatsoever, let alone the healing power of such personal chimeras as chickens, prayer or market self-regulation.

Political nightmares about my cancer. I really have sunk low.

Slept well at least, dreams notwithstanding. Lorazepam really is my friend. Hates it, I does. I’m planning to spend a quiet weekend at home (do I have any other kind), though will be visiting. The usual circus next week, with chemo infusion eleven of twelve overlapping the date of my 46th birthday.

It bothers me that I don’t really leave the house anymore. I’ve stepped outside my door twice in the last week, once for a brief walk on Sunday with after we de-needled me, and yesterday when my sister drove me to my therapist’s office. I probably won’t step outside again until next Wednesday’s therapy appointment, though the subsequent medical and natal festivities will get me into the open air a few more times before next week is out.

Narrow. I am become so narrow. If I had Photoshop I’d make an image of myself as a stickman, because that’s how feel. Narrow and tired.

[cancer] ZOMG sleep, and Scalzi’s part in the Lesbian-Zombie War

Worked a long day yesterday, including a four-hour conference call. (!) Miserable as predicted. By 3:30 I was horizontal for the day, except for occasional forays for food and the restroom. Not much food, mind you. I had managed to eat an entire lunch, which is the first time in days I’ve choked down a meal’s worth of food. H— showed up and kept me company a little while.

GI failure (eventually resolved successfully) prevented me from zonking out as early as planned, but I did make eight hours of solid sleep followed by another 45 minutes of semisolid sleep. I had an extended dream about spending time in an open-source village that was sort of a cross between Ruritania and the Prisoner’s resort, but then Krissy Scalzi took me back to ‘s rural Ohio compound to meet with the Great Man. I don’t think her dream-self liked my dream-self very much, because she made me wait in the basement, which was seriously dusty and spiderwebbed. wasn’t around, so I set to writing whilst idling in the bowels of his home. He finally showed up as I woke up, announcing it was just in time for the Lesbian-Zombie War to begin.

Yes, I slept well. How about you?

[personal] More of the dream log

This one was extended and disjointed, much like my night’s sleep. I was working in a small office in a small town. Tried to get one of the women in the office to go to lunch with me. She said she’d meet me at the restaurant across the street, but she stood me up. I walked in their side yard a while, killing time in case she was late, when one of the waiters pushed me into the river. All the waiters were kids, about 10-12 years old, dressed in tux pants and white oxford shirts, and they stood on the riverbank to laugh at me as I struggled to get out.

I wound up in the kitchen, where I convinced the chef to let me cook. I prepared olives by stuffing them with blue cheese and slivers of flank steak, then battered them and deep-fried them. A culinary success!

After that I had to take the train out of town. It was a rickety local, ancient, battered Pullman cars with no service on board, but that was fine. I wound up in a train station remarkably like Portland’s Union Station, though it was some dream-locale, not my own beloved PDX. A cranky woman who resembled my first wife (whom in real life I have not seen or heard of in nearly 20 years) was arguing with someone about a diorama of civic improvements to be made in the area. I got involved in the argument, cooled everybody down, and wound up making out with her on a train station bench while disapproving Pullman porters in spangled suits (think some Busby Berkeley version of the classic uniform) prepared a SuperLiner for a long distance ride.

I got dumped by this gal, too, missed my connection for the SuperLiner, and wound up hungry and alone in the empty train station.

Interpretation of this dream is left as an exercise for the reader. Feel free to contribute in comments

[cancer] Oh, god, the dreams, make them stop

This morning and I are going in to the infusion center to have my bloodwork done and my needle set into the port. Well, in the reverse order, actually, but the outcome is that I walk around all day with the needle in.

The last two times I’ve gone in, they’ve had problems setting the needle. The port has sunk and tilted, so it’s no longer normal to the plane of the skin of my chest, and there’s far more intervening tissue than should be present by design. This has led to some rather difficult and painful efforts at setting the needle. Intramuscular injections of saline are to be avoided where possible, I’m here to tell you.

This past time, one of the senior nurses had to take over, and go through it very carefully. I made a point of asking that she document the process for my current port position in my chart, to smooth along these next four sessions. Not looking forward to it.

In other news, yesterday was a little slow due to poor sleep, but not abysmal. And something very odd happened about 3:30 or so. I was reading Terry Pratchett when writer brain poked me and said, hey, hey, let’s revise some old stories you never sent out. So I did. Worked for about an hour, got two pieces of short SF out to be read. Weird. Writer brain has been fighting me all through April, so when I finally give it a rest, then it pipes up and wants to go party. Probably no writing today, btw, because of ‘s reading and signing at Powell’s Cedar Hills tonight. We’ll be scooting over there this afternoon for a pre-event prandium, which will soak up both my available time and my available spoons. I’ll be at the event if my energy holds out.

However, last night’s sleep was abysmal, even for having logged some pretty good hours in the rack. Around 1 am I was dreaming about me and hiking in Mexico (there’s more to it, involving a very out of place Pennsylvania state trooper and a ruined bar, but it wasn’t all that inherently interesting). At one point in the dream we were along a cliff face, as happens on trails here in Oregon, when I bumped into her through sheer clumsiness, as a result of which she slipped and fell, tumbling several hundred feet. I could see her face as she plunged to her death. I went from sound asleep to wide-awake adrenaline-fueled panic in no time flat, very nearly erupting into screams before I realized it was a dream. I had to go out into the living room and hyperventilate a while, and never really did calm down. Even now, I still have something of an adrenaline hangover.

The last time this happened to me was several years ago, when I dreamt had fallen off a high rise balcony. I very nearly jumped after her.

I’m usually a fairly lucid dreamer, but sometimes I’m “dreaming real”. Both of those dreams felt like real experiences in the moment. Experiences I never, ever want to repeat.

[personal] Another dream log

The dream in my head when I woke up:

I’m in an industrial zone. It’s a ravaged, Rust Belt sort of place, the kind that saw its better days when car headlights rode outside the fenders and men wore pork pie hats. The streets are wide and littered. Alongside the road I’m on is an elevated railway, though for some reason I want to think of it as a straight line rollercoaster. A line of men and women is gathered alongside me, waiting to mount rickety, corroded steps to a platform along the railway. They’re all pilots and astronauts, each wearing a uniform from somewhere in their career. I see WWII Army Air Corps pilots, WASPS, Vietnam guys, Apollo astronauts, Gulf War vets. It’s like a history of American air power on the foot.

Above us in the sky floats a line of B-25 Mitchell bombers. They are moving far too slowly for airspeed, as if they were hung from blimps. Some are complete, some are damaged, some are so skeletal as to be nearly wireframes of themselves. As they drift past the platform, the generations of pilots step aboard them. They are flying to wherever it is that aircraft go after they die, sort of like that scene in Porco Rosso.

I weep for them.

[personal] Postcards from the weird

I don’t usually document my dreams here on the blog — they are largely of interest only to me, if that — but my subconscious was especially demented last night, and I’m still giggling over some of the imagery.

In my dream, I was on a business trip, staying at a nice hotel where one of the salesguys from the Day Jobbe was also staying. I had to sneak out of the hotel at night without him noticing, and wound up being captured by Darth Vader, and tied up with Luke and Leia in Darth’s secret underground lair, which remarkably resembled the Adam West-era Batcave.

After the Sith Lord was one monologging at us, he got a Chinese-made Pigeon bicycle (imagine a classic one-speed) and pedaled off down the Bat Tunnel. This made me laugh so hard I broke our bonds, so me and the Star Wars folks escaped.

Somehow I wound up in the clutches of a film critic, possibly Roger Ebert, who made me go through a frame-by-frame analysis of the lost “Darth Vader on a bicycle” footage, which had been cut from the theatrical release of the original Star Wars.

Escaping that horror, I would up out on the streets of Mexicali, where I ran into . She and her boyfriend had bought a housing lot there, and were camping in a dirt pile while they excavated a foundation by hand. Seanan’s mom showed up, and they got into a screaming clod fight, which I fled only to run into Darth Vader again.

This time he was riding one of those tall bicycles you occasionally see around Portland (or at the circus), trying to cadge drinks from the frat boys partying in the street. I was working my way back to my business hotel while avoiding Darth Vader, not to mention the screaming fight still going on behind me. About then I woke up, filled with a peaceful sense of WTFery?

[cancer] Chemo dreams, redux

My dreams from Saturday night, summarized.

The first dream

Driving a cream colored rented Cadillac along a freeway through a deep, curving road cut. The sky is that strange mix of stormy and bright. Traffic is moderate but moving very fast. I am suddenly struck blind by something I realize is a stroke. The Child is in the passenger seat, and very calmy begins telling me where to steer. I can find neither the brake nor the accelerator, but I can feel the car swaying and swerving as my 12-year-old daughter guides me. I feel utterly out of control, and deeply panicked.

The second dream

I am in a Portland hipster squat, some 3/1 rental house in NE with about six tenants. I am me: middle-aged, sick, on chemo, and I have no idea what I’m doing with a bunch of 23-year-old cool kids. The place is grungy and moldy and hung with Indian print linen and old tye-dye. A cute young woman with maroon hair and piercings is very interested in me, so we go into her room and start making out. After we get naked she realizes how old and sick I am. It all goes sideways.

The third dream

Now it’s a hotel, somewhere downtown. An old railroad hotel, one of those transient places, like a giant version of the hipster squat except occupied by middle aged men too far down on their luck. The street outside is crazy wide, like one of those Communist boulevards with no cars where they parade the missiles every May Day. I find my way to my grungy little room, and there’s another hipster chick. She wants to make out, I tell her no, and begin cleaning my medical equipment. Needles, tubes, ampoules, all of it bloody.

I have a little zebra fish in a bowl. The girl persists in trying to get me to go somewhere with her. I finally relent, and realize if I do no one will be home to feed my zebra fish. To spare it slow starvation, I kill my fish with one of my chemo needles. Crying, I leave with the girl.

The fourth dream

I am in the giant boulevard, walking along, deeply regretting that I killed my fish. The girl who tempted me out has vanished. An enormous traveling crane comes up the street, the kind they have at railyards to unload the intermodal trailers, except bigger. Some madman has hijacked it and is hunting me. His threats blare across the city on loudspeakers. I run from one building to the next, looking for shelter, but no one will help me because of the trail of death and destruction that follows me.

It’s all there — anxieties about medicine, parenting, sexuality, competency; the sense of displacement and threat. My subconscious can be astonishingly transparent.

[cancer] Chemo dreams

I keep dreaming that I am wrecking my car. Not giant death-defying pileups, just missed corners, bad swerves, sideswipes, fender benders and the like.

This internal meme has two sources, I think. One, I keep using the “car on ice” metaphor when discussing my side effects management. Two, my driving is frankly crap these days. My peripheral attention is poor. I don’t drive at night anymore, I don’t drive during or a few days after chemo even during the days. When I do drive, I have to double and triple check mirrors, lanes etc.

Not sure what it means. Except maybe I should drive less. Sigh.

[cancer] The mighty sleep hammer of medical chemistry

The combination of Imodium and Lorazepam last night allowed me to fall asleep, and then stay there. Slept a bit over nine hours, which is what my body needed after these previous two nights of extended lower GI-induced sleepfail. Of course, I’ll need to take a Visicol pretty soon to offload the bricks that Imodium accumulates in my lower GI. Still, sleep, blessed sleep. Infusion session three of twelve is tomorrow, so being caught up on my rest is beyond essential.

The drugs have their penalties. In my case, dreaming of . He and I were at some sort of retreat, along with , and a number of the other usual suspects. We wound up playing a sort of combination of full contact tag and Mafia in and around a horse barn, except we called it “Gorillas and Lions.” Some people were playing it as strip tag, but luckily there were a lot of horse blankets. There was also a lot of running around weird rusted old farm implements and rotting floorboards, so I don’t know why we all didn’t put our eyes out. Which would have spared us the consequences of strip tag, at any rate. Except for the one guy in the gorilla suit. Who might have been .

Go, Lorazepam.

And , next time you’re cruise director in one of my dreams, could we just sit down to a nice game of Settlers of Catan or something?

[personal] Dreaming of myself

Woke up this morning from one of those long, complex dreams which faded immediately except for the last scene. I was back at the prep school where I’d been a boarding student during the declining years of the Age of Disco (waves to ), except this wasn’t the Choate of my memories, but some ur-Choate of my subconscious.

I’d found my way into a bar on one of the dorm floors — we had those, but they were generally hidden away from faculty eyes, not operating with their own liquor licenses as in my dream. I was nursing a glass of wine and watching the ruckus in the hall settle down as evening study hours came into effect, when I realized the very large, amiable man in the red sweatshirt behind the bar was in fact me, seen in a mirror. I was shocked at how big I’d become again.

I’m still not sure how I served myself wine from the other side of the bar.

[writing] Doorways to the country of my dreams

Last night I dreamt that ericjamesstone and I were hanging out. (Which would be fun if it happened IRL.) We’d had lunch and gone walking in a greenspace on a college campus, talking politics. He went to his car to get something, and I was mugged by a drunk homeless guy and his dog while Eric was gone. I was mortally afraid this idiot would punch me in the gut, where my surgical seam is, so I ran into a classroom building, where I met Vonda McIntyre. Moments later I was in a seminar room full of Pacific Northwest writers — brendacooper, Jim Fiscus, Jerry Oltion, a bunch of other folks. I’d been scheduled to moderate a panel on shared world building, and was utterly unprepared, and even unaware.

Is this the writer equivalent of the college anxiety dream about having to take the final exam for the class you thought you’d dropped before the semester started? I woke up laughing at myself.